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York’s Dementia Friendly Town project moves to exciting new stage

York’s involvement in a national-first dementia friendly town project is moving into the next stage with free community training.

Alzheimer’s WA and the York community are working together as part of the Dementia Friendly Communities project to create a more dementia-aware and understanding community by reducing the stigma associated with dementia. The project, supported by the WA Country Health Service, is the first of its kind in Australia.

In a recent survey of community members in York more than 80% of respondents¹ believed there was a stigma associated with a diagnosis of dementia. When asked to provide an example of stigma they had witnessed, the comments revealed a common theme:

  • ‘Friends stop visiting, they don’t know what to say or do around a person with dementia’
  • ‘People with dementia are ignored by others around them’
  • ‘People with dementia are aggressive, and have problems interacting socially’
  • ‘Retail staff are rude and impatient with customers who have dementia’
  • ‘Aged care and retail staff are not trained to deal with dementia’

Stigma often is a result of a lack of understanding or knowledge. Many people are aware of dementia but have little understanding of it. This is in part because historically dementia was often not spoken about.

As part of the Dementia Friendly Communities project, being run by Alzheimer’s WA in partnership with local organisations including the Shire and Balladong Lodge, two free training sessions on ‘What is Dementia?” will be held on Thursday ,1 March at Balladong Lodge. The sessions seek to enable those attending to better understand dementia and feel more confident responding to a person with it.

The first session will be for all community members. The second session is aimed at frontline business and retail staff.

The first session will be for all community members. The second session is aimed at frontline business staff.

Each 1½ hour training session will cover the following topics:

  • What is dementia?
  • How to recognise the symptoms?
  • How to communicate with a person living with dementia in your community and workplace
  • Steps you can take to enrich your community and workplace

Refreshments are provided.

Bookings are essential and can be made by contacting Alzheimer’s WA via email dfc@alzheimerswa.org.au or by calling 1300 66 77 88.

Free Training Details

Community session – for everyone
Thursday 1 March 2018
Balladong Lodge
20 Red Mile Road York
Afternoon tea provided

Frontline business/retail personnel session
5.30pm – 7.00pm
Thursday 1 March 2018
Balladong Lodge
20 Red Mile Road York
Supper provided

More Community Initiatives

Alzheimer’s WA is also working on initiatives that will assist people living with dementia in the York community. Some of these initiatives include: the introduction of a memory cafe, providing ‘no rush’ lanes in supermarkets, and easy wayfinding through clear signage, defined pathways and colour contrast.

Memory cafes provide a relaxed social environment where people can attend and connect with other people living with dementia. Taking place within a normal cafe setting, the cafe staff participate in dementia awareness training to support a person with dementia visiting the cafe. Examples of existing memory cafes in Western Australia can be found in the City of Melville² and the City of Fremantle³.

A ‘no rush’ or ‘relaxed’ lane at the supermarket checkout allows people to take a little more time, without feeling any pressure to rush through the process, and would benefit not only people living with dementia but people with any kind of impairment that might slow them down. A great example of a ‘no rush’ lane in a supermarket is being trialled in Scotland4.

Wayfinding refers to our ability to navigate our way through a space and familiarise ourselves to our surroundings. A well-designed environment can help people living with dementia by providing essential prompts to help them find their way, either within their own home environment or in the community. A poorly designed environment can be confusing, disorienting and at worst, disabling and even dangerous for those with dementia. The Dementia Enabling Environments website 5 provides more information.

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